Something about mist and time and pumpkins in a patch. Something about children and candy and costumes. Something about the turning of the old year into the new. Something about snow and angels and trees dressed up in decorations not yet broken or lost. Something about love and apple cider and chilly nights. Something about beauty and peace and how fast time is. Something about hope and death and leaves recycled. Something already said many times in dull ways that we look forward to like a handful of candy corn still left from last Halloween.
note: I wrote this for the monthly poetry contest last year or the year before that. Time seems oddly fluid anymore.
I’m supposed to be a poet, I said. Well, be one, she replied. Be one. Rip the flesh away, use a figurative spoon, everyone has figurative spoons, use one, and walk around in your ridiculous bones. What sort of advice is that? It’s my advice, she said. What does it mean? It means eat a lot of grapes. Are you sure?
If you can’t glean meaning from a moldy bit of advice, then yes, it means to eat grapes. You can’t eat grapes if you’re dressed only in your bones. Sure you can, she said. You can mash those grapes against your ribs, smear them on your cranium, tuck them into your eye cavities and pretend you have eyes. I find I am out of whimsy these days. I know, she said. Maybe you should try being a poet. I hear that helps.
October. Halloween. We’re approaching my favorite holiday. My pumpkins were eaten alive by bugs. It’s cold here.
And I will be mingling with other humans this weekend. Dread is my main emotion, frankly. I have pretty much turned into cat lady practically sealed inside a dwelling with her stacks of TV Guides from the 80’s. Remember those???
You could read, ahead, what was gonna be on TV! Do the crossword puzzle. I don’t know, it’s been a while. Remember magazines? Ah! The only reason I actually go to a doctor is to sit and read Sunset or Reader’s Digest. What are they wearing in Aspen for the 2002 Fall season? Laughter really is the best medicine. So why am I here when I can cure whatever’s wrong with my heart rate by just laughing at it?? I’d save myself getting weighed, then having to wait for whatever pills big Pharma…Anyhoo!
Oh, cat lady attempted joke. Then distracted by TV Guide nostalgia. Then dad jokes about magazines in general. I am so woke.
Dread in dealing with others.
I will have to do small talk, maybe. If I talk to anyone. I might not. But I am manning a booth. [Womanning?] I’m selling, I’m a salesperson for a few hours this Caturday.
I don’t have a cat, I should not make cat jokes.
I haven’t even seen any cats about, we used to have them all over. There used to be cats that lived with us. I remember a cat of ours that got trapped by the hammock. That was one mad cat once we got it cut out of the strings.
Another cat from way back adopted my mother at a sale barn where she was buying pigs. It brought my mother her kittens. People were glaring at her cause this calico kitty was VERY LOUD AND INSISTENT that my mother was its goddess and reason for being. Alice lived with us for many a year, the best mouser ever. She lived outside. I don’t remember if she got spayed, she probably did. Our animals did not go about having loads of babies when I was little or when I got older.
Spay and neuter. I worked in animal shelters. SPAY AND NEUTER YOUR GODDAMN PETS. PSA over.
Well, as this post will get maybe just me ticking it as a ‘like’, thank you for reading.
I think I am actually ready for this coming event hawking my wares to the truly indifferent public. I looked up how to get there—it’s just a street over from where I was last year, so that’s good and nice and good. Same exit and everything. Score! My anxiety level will creep high and higher yet as the week winds down. But it will be over by next Monday and then the anticipation and dread of the Mountain Home reading.
I will be in Nampa, Idaho this weekend!!! Road trip!
I will be shilling my books and some art, and then reading a flash fiction piece on Sunday about a naughty computer program called the Fish Whisperer. Naughty in the PG sense, not X. Sorry.
The Death Rattle Writer’s Festival starts this Friday, runs through Sunday. Okay. Bye!
I know I said September was a promotion blitz for my everything…but hey, Halloween, baked goods, bad dad jokes. Come on!
Now, I am a FAN of baking contest shows. The Great British Bake Off [is that the actual name?] got me all hot and bothered to find more soothing hours of people BAKING STUFF FOR PRIZES. The Food Network [porn for foodies, if we’re all honest. Are we?] has a plethora of shows around people desperately trying to bake elaborate confections during timed heats. There’s a Christmas series. There’s one centered on spring. There’s a series where kids bake elaborate stuff. Dang. How did that ten year old learn to make such stellar macrons?? What is a macron again?
Today’s main challenge–Make a ten layer cake flavored with rose water while incorporating dried grasshoppers and garlic! There’s a surprise twist that includes a 3-D sculpture of one of the Seven Wonders of the World that must be made out of two kinds of bread!
Groans! I am hooked!
Yep, so the Halloween series is my fave. I admit it. Scary clown cakes. A monster formed out of cream puffs. A smoking cake based on common nightmares. [As in dry ice is used that makes it seem fog or mist oozes from the cake. Cool, amirite??] The judges dress up in costumes. What is the budget for this show, cause those costumes and makeup…are quite elaborate and no costume gets repeated. And then I shrug, go—eh—and carry on transfixed by the successes and oh, failures of the various bakers. Cause who has not watched their pretty cake fall like a mofo??! Or rushed to get something done, that didn’t taste great? Who has not tried out weird flavor combos? Certainly not moi.
I love Halloween. It’s my absolute fave holiday. Mostly because you don’t have to spend it with family trying not to come out of your damn skin as they discuss how global warming is a hoax and how the demonrats are trying to destroy ‘murica by bussing busloads of illegals from California to Texas to vote. Cause George Soros funds all that and he’s a Nazi Jew globalist trying to replace white people with brown people. All of this said while crazy uncle gives you the side-eye to see how upset and triggered you are! I feel a bout of leprosy coming on, sorry, can’t make the Thanksgiving massacre this year!
Yeah, that’s why I prefer a holiday that’s rooted in candy and alcoholic excess. And scary movies! Yes, I’ve been monstrously drunk, happily so, during Pumpkinfest. Some of the best times I ever had were around Halloween. I love costumes! I love pumpkins! Can ya blame me? So round and orange! Punkins!
I also love ghost stories and zombies and vampires and spooky stuff. There’s that, too.
Okay! So the baking element is what actually had me at hello. I am a strictly amateur baker. I just started making homemade bread a few years ago. I usually use a cake mix for cakes. My grandmother loved them. She always sighed happily and said what a great thing it was to just mix up a cake out of a box. My grandmother loved cooking and recipes and cooking shows. Like Julia Childs. Or the Frugal Gourmet. If you’ve never heard of either, well, that’s okay. I guess we can still be friends.
I’ve been bingeing on the Halloween Baking show, as it ramps up tonight with a new season. What will it be? A wicked witch episode? A show dedicated to ghosts and spirits?? A zombie and vampire wedding extravaganza? Cupcakes and tarts and mousse, oh my! The red food coloring alone…!
Now, the host guy annoys me. I admit it. Just…stop talking. Just announce the categories, and there are two—the first one that can be bake a dozen cookies with these ingredients and shaped like this. Followed by a harder challenge and if your creation doesn’t cut it, hey, you can be sent home. The American baking shows seem to have a two part format whereas the Great British one has three distinct challenges. Except Chopped has three parts. Yes, I’ve also discovered Chopped, which I watch mainly to see how the various chefs deal with BATSHIT INSANE ingredients hidden in a basket.
Halloween baking. That’s my focus here, not Chopped. Stay in your lane now.
I also enjoy the decorating element, as this makes me try and pretty up whatever baking I attempt. Uniformity and looks! My pies don’t look like a cow came along and sat on them, for instance, since I started caring a bit about their appearance. Instead of, hey, it’s edible and baked all the way! I watch people sculpt out of chocolate or fondant or rice cereal treats. I observe buckets of buttercream frosting being colored to slap on cakes shaped like skulls or pumpkins or haunted houses. The fillings conjured up, mostly raspberry puree or vanilla bean custard, that get squirted into still hot pastries as the clock ticks down.
Ah the judging. I do enjoy the three judges. Delicious to underbaked and limp or the flat-eyed glare sent to a trembling baker. I can’t find the rum in your ganache. The bitten lip of the baker! It’s in there, the baker claims and the judge curls her British upper lip in utter smoking contempt as the other two judges either agree or dissent. There’s two Americans and one not American. Names?
Now, I’ve seen horrible looking desserts saved by their taste. A hot mess that tasted fabulous. A Day of the Dead cake that looked like I’d decorated it but which tasted like a professional baker baked it. And the guy almost in tears over how his cake appeared.
But sometimes this won’t save a baker if they’ve already had a bad baking session earlier. The judging seems arbitrary. Which is fine. It also seems to be based on personalities a bit rather than actual baked goods produced…which is also fine. Whatever. It’s television.
Anyway! Before this approaches novella length. I like Halloween. I like baking shows. A Halloween baking contest show. I’m! So! There!
Waiting for the dems to do something is sorta like waiting for glaciers to move. So I’ll watch people try to make scary stuff out of flour, eggs and heavy cream. Woot woot!
Oh the dog took over my bed last night. She’s rather like having a space heater blowing directly on you. As she sighs and flops around and settles in as I try to find a comfy position. She’s not a small dog, in other words. But I feel rather honored she chose to stay instead of stomping out to snooze in the living room. So have been up since three thirty. Cause that’s when me and Miz Bridge had to powder our noses. And the owls were hooting away and the coyotes singing the songs of their people.
I will be attending the Death Rattle Writer’s Festival in Nampa, Idaho, this first weekend in October. I will be reading a flash fiction piece and manning a booth. I am attempting to SELL STUFF and this time, plan to offer some painted objects as well as my books. I plan to get the bank app on my phone as no one carries cash anymore. Except, um, me. And some business cards! I tell ya, I’m almost a competent adult this time around.
So plan on my writing about that experience and how it goes.
If you happen to be in Western Idaho and wish to attend:
Nampa is next door to Boise, by the way. Idaho is right next to Oregon. [Some might not automatically know where Idaho is. I get fuzzy on the what states are what back east and geography in general. I am so very American.]
Some pics of my wares and of course, my two novels are available for e-readers and your real life bookshelves. Cheers, all! And thanks for reading, as always.
A short post in where I post an odd poem I wrote for a monthly poetry contest. You get an image, and then have to compose something based on that image. I try to do it every month. The following attempt. We got a picture of a bird skeleton that had been spray painted or in some way splashed with colors. I pictured this same bird skeleton posed at some art gallery with people cooing about how deep life was while nibbling snacks. As they talked of how ‘woke’ they were.
I can only think of the spray paint used to paint your bones. How perhaps I will be arranged and posed when I am dead and smeared with Flower Power decals for some grad student’s take on the Sexy Sixties. Protest rock will play in the background and my bony fingers will flash peace on earth, good will to men as she earnestly talks about how she’s not a feminist because that’s not needed now and she’s not a victim.
I know I promised a blizzard of Ann Wuehler advertising but I went to a movie.
Been hankering since It ended to see how the It saga would end. I wondered what the film maker/s would do to match the young Losers taking on a killer clown from outer space.
[Spoiler. If you haven’t read the book and know nothing about It, by Stephen King, go away.]
After all, the kid portion of this story is so much better than the adult portion. Yeah, I said it. I find the adult versions, even in the book, rather…eh. I think King’s best writing and what makes this book hum, are the kid parts. Where our intrepid seven are young, reckless, brave, profane and just…kids. The adults they morph into lose that sparkle a bit, which is the heart of the book and hey, gets touched upon in the movie. What we can achieve as kids, via imagination, often cannot be duplicated when an adult. Yeah, got it. Know that one.
Now, movie one, It, was decidedly creepy, well done, atmospheric, well acted with a cast of mostly kids. And yes, that killer clown, that’s actually some sort of monster haunting Derry, Maine, since way way back. If you don’t know the plot to It, I cannot help you nor do I want to. You can go look it up. I wrote about It, last year. So I’ll spare you all a recap of that.
It, Chapter Two, picks up roughly twenty seven or so years after the events of the last movie. It, [Pennywise the Dancing Clown!] is active and killing again! The Losers took an oath that if It was not dead, they’d return and finish It off. They cut their hands open with a chunk of glass, took a blood oath, as kids do. The only one who stayed behind to be a sort of guard and chronicler of It, or Mike– notices the same patterns as last time, as every time It stirs, [cause he’s researched, kept notes, made charts mapping these patterns!] and he calls the others.
We get tiny glimpses into the people Beverly, Bill, Richie, Stan, Mike and Eddie have turned into. And of course Ben, who was the Fat Kid. He’s now Handsome and Svelte. And still into Bevvie! Who basically married her dad, as we do get a brief moment with Beverly packing for Derry and her physical fight with her husband Tom, who’s an abusive asshat. There’s a far more in depth take on this in the novel. But in novels you have time to go into backstories in leisurely detail. Not so much in movies with seven different characters to cover.
But I’ve read the book, so I don’t need the refresher courses on Bill the Writer, Ben the Architect, Richie the Comic, Stan the Accountant, Eddie the Driver who Married His Mother by Marrying a Fat Chick, Mike the Librarian and of course Bev the Designer Who Married Her Daddy by Marrying A Mean Guy Who Beats Her.
Okay! Before you think I hated this flick! I didn’t. Oh man, I did not.
There was about three of us in the theatre but to be fair, it was noon on a Tuesday. I snuggled in, as the movie house had put in brand new fancy seating. Comfy wide chair that reclined! A tray in front of you for snacks and drinks! I just needed a knitted throw and my jammies! Okay. Previews, schmiewviews. Whatever! Will Smith fighting himself because his clone is evil?? What? Skipping that. Downton Abbey?? Yes!! Weird Emma Thompson movie trailer for a movie from June. Where she’s a late night talk show host…um, in America? We don’t have those, sweetie. It’s not still June, is it?
It, Chapter Two begins!
We get some reminders of the killer clown, we get Derry having some sort of harvest or fall celebration. And we get, yes, a murder. This same murder started off the It book, the murder of a gay man by Derry locals. This rather gruesome beating, which seemed to go on a long time, ended with the beaten man, Adrian Mellon, being dumped into the river, where Pennywise yanks him out and snacks on him in front of Mellon’s boyfriend who has tried to find Mellon by getting down to the river’s edge, despite being banged up and beaten to a pulp himself.
This death, and murders/missing children prompts Mike to call the Losers.
Now, that opening hate crime is never ever addressed again. It’s just kind of a throwaway crime to advance the plot. Plot– Pennywise is up to his old antics again and hey, we need to finish this clown off once and for all so drop everything and let’s do this.
There’s also two other rather disturbing deaths that I just…eh. Ugh. Both children. Now I know this thing preys mostly on kids. But still.
Let’s get into the Grown Ups. Ben, boring. Bev, eh. Bill is played by James MacAvoy, who I just watched in Split…mm. Eddie, lots of fun. Stan, oh dear. [If you don’t know Stan’s fate, he takes himself out of the equation so to speak.] And Richie…ah, given life by Bill Hader, one of my favorite funny people to slink out of SNL. Richie was perhaps my least favorite character in the book…and here he’s one of my favorites. I’d say that was due to the kid and adult actors frankly.
Also, they gave Richie a new direction in the movie that, yes, worked. I think it worked. It added some nuance to an otherwise bland set of adults who just mostly ran around screaming as Pennywise yanked their chains until the Big Finale where they united in a chorus line to sing the big anthem as they tap-killed the clown into puddles of greasepaint. Just kidding! Or am I???
And what was I doing during the antics of Adult Losers [who had all become successful, if not filthy rich sorts] versus Pennywise the Kid Killing Menace? Bawling mostly. Yep. The waterworks went on as adults struggled to reconcile how changed they were to the kids they had been and…yeah. And how relationships among their group had changed or stayed the same. And Richie and Eddie the comic relief and yes, the heart of this film at the end. I could have cared two snots in a single nostril about the Bill-Bev-Ben triangle. Yeah, we get it. She’s attracted to Leader Bill while Sidekick Ben gazes at her with longing adoration and the patience of a trap door spider. And Bev [That’s Ben and Bev’s named combined…yep] end up together because of course they do.
Some of the scares in this movie. Damn. The old lady and Bev. That was…I had actual shivers. It was so quiet and well done and a gradual build up that Something Is Not Right Here. High praise for that. And high praise for the genuinely unsettling Stan’s severed head turns into a spider…spider legs with hands on the end. Fuck! No!
Finally, the scene with the little girl with the birthmark and Pennywise. She tells the clown he’s creepy. Yes! I’m thinking, finally, somebody calls out how damn creepy and repulsive this clown is. But It starts fake sobbing, and whining that everybody hates him because of how he looks…which appeals to the little girl with her vast large bright red birthmark. [Parents didn’t have this removed or plan to? What is this, Victorian England??] I thought she had paint on her face from the town carnival going on. Anyway! Pennywise offers to blow the mark off her face. She trustingly turns to allow this…and CHOMP. God damn it.
So. To sum up, Bill Hader as Richie was fantastic. My take. The rest of the Losers, eh. They were okay. Not nearly as engaging or as fun or as likeable as their predecessors. But that was also true in the book. Maybe they’re not supposed to be. Maybe that’s another message about aging. You lose that appeal! You turn into a too-sensible scaredy cat who just wants rocks in your whiskey and bills paid on time.
We also get a nod to the Ritual of Chud, which seems out of left field, but which will take down Pennywise. Mike shows this to adult Bill [I had to powder my nose, so missed the Back in the Past alien artifact flashback]. The Adult Losers all more or less work toward confronting the clown and ending his million or more years reign of terror. [In the book, It turned out to be female and an egg layer…yep.]
And there were digs all through the movie about bad endings…cause King’s critics have openly said King has weak endings or even bad endings to his novels. Tee hee, now back to the kiddie killer clown that can only be killed by the Ritual of Chud and um…this wasn’t in the first movie. Um. Okay!
Now, I rather like how this movie ended and how Pennywise was [spoiler alert!] defeated. I won’t actually spoil that but it rang true. It echoed back to the first movie, to that power of togetherness and belief that monsters can vanquished. Which echoes the Neil Gaiman quote about the importance of fairy tales—basically that they are important in that such tales show monsters can be fought and conquered. Which is the basic and utter universal appeal of the horror tale…that monsters can be taken down and order restored.
I should also mention a sort of villain, a holdover from the first movie. There’s this rather grand, bloody and nearly operatic intro to the once-kid that terrorized the Losers and Ben in particular. Henry Bowers frees himself [with help from our fave creepy killer clown!] from the state mental hospital to return to Derry to…totally not be anything but a slight hindrance. There’s a premature ejaculation quality here…a lot of promises and fizzle and dribble off to the side sorta arc here.
I remember from the book that he really mucked things up for the adults but here he’s almost another comic relief who’s cray cray and slightly murderous. Eh. Also, we don’t get anything from Bill’s wife or Bev’s husband…both of whom played a slightly bigger part in the book than here.
Fine! Just go read the damn book, Ann!!
I did, so there!
Oh and the film also employs a rather astoundingly numerous set of flashbacks. But they work, pave over, smooth those rough edges of ‘why are they doing that again?’ or ‘who is this person?’ or ‘why should I care when Bev stops to stare into the bathroom with a gaze only echoed on Victoria’s Secret runways by models in thong panties and angel wing attachments?’ We also get to remember why the first movie worked so well as the kid actors figure in these flashbacks…and the adult actors do a competent job of nostalgia, sorrow and determination to end It once and for all.
With that out of the way…in conclusion:
More Bill Hader.
The clown transformations into weird, unsettling crap, well done. That it was at the expense of character development and so forth, well. It is a horror movie. You don’t need characters, you need victims and an intrepid band of such and such or the last remaining survivor to take on the monster/psycho/alien or multiples of said whatever evil force/invading plague.
Which the film makers forgot all about when they made the first It. They instead offered us characters we genuinely liked and cared about. They were not meat for the beast or wisecracking no-layered shills designed solely to look good covered in sexy blood and wounds. [Which crosses over into pornography and sexy fluids splattered here and there and there again. Mm]
So there’s my hasty, long take. I’ll wait until 9/12 to post this. Watching or listening to Pumpkincunt try to look solemn and sad today has actually erased the filter between my brain and fingers so I think I need to work on my screenplay and funnel that fury there. That fucking fuckstain dares give speeches about…fuck you, fuckstain. Just fuck you.